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Mbeki Foundation describes Mkapa’s passing as an immense loss to Africa
24 July 2020, 7:44 PM

Former President Thabo Mbeki and his foundation have expressed sadness over the passing of the former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa earlier today, describing it as an immense loss to “our continent at a time when we needed his wisdom to help our continent think through the solutions to the intractable challenges we face, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Mkapa family, H.E. President John Magufuli and through him to the sister people of Tanzania and Ben Mkapa’s organisation, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM),” the Thabo Mbeki Foundation says in a statement.

The organisation says Mkapa’s dedication and commitment to rid Africa  of colonialism and apartheid enabled Tanzania and her people to serve as the Mecca of the liberation movements in Southern Africa, including the ANC.

Mkapa’s diplomatic responsibilities included ambassadorships in Canada, the United States, and Nigeria. Later he was appointed to the position of Foreign Minister.

“His practical dedication and commitment to the achievement of the progressive transformation of Tanzania and the unity and renaissance of Africa further informed his activities after his retirement from government. In this context, he remained engrossed with matters of peace and development of our continent and through the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation focused sharply on improving health care in Tanzania.”

“As he rests, we will pick up the spear from where he dropped it and help to promote the achievement of the noble objectives to which he dedicated his life and work,” the statement concludes.

Earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa also sent his condolences to Mkapa’s family and the people of Tanzania. He described him as a visionary leader.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta described Mkapa as an outstanding East African “who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace, and progress of the region.

African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat has described him as a peacekeeper in the East African region.

The US, German, Belgian, and Chinese embassies in Tanzania also sent their condolences.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has declared a seven-day mourning period, during which all flags will be flown at half-mast and revealed that his memorial service will be held at the national stadium.

Mkapa led the country from 1995 to 2005. He served as a Foreign Affairs Minister between 1977 and 1980, also played a key role in encouraging the United Nations to implement sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa as a punishment for its occupation of Namibia.

Even in his retirement, Mkapa mediated peace talks in East and Central Africa, including in South Sudan, the DRC Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Kenya.

He was 81 years old at the time of his passing.

Germany to offer returning holidaymakers free coronavirus tests
24 July 2020, 7:00 PM

Germany will offer returning holidaymakers free coronavirus tests as part of efforts to prevent a new wave of infections, authorities said on Friday, as the country recorded its highest number of daily cases for two months.

Arrivals from countries designated as high-risk will be eligible for immediate tests, while arrivals from other places will be able to get tested within three days. “The current infection figures show once again that we are still in the middle of the corona pandemic. And increasing travel increases the risk of more infections being brought back into Germany,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement.

Germany has so far done a better job than many countries at containing the virus thanks to early and extensive testing. But videos of loutish behaviour by some Germans in Mallorca and Bulgaria has raised concerns that holidaymakers are at increased risk of infections that could then be imported back home.

The number of new confirmed cases increased sharply on Friday to 815, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed, the biggest tally since mid-May. Germany has designated 130 countries as high-risk, including Turkey, Egypt and the United States.

Arrivals from anywhere on that list who cannot show a negative test result are already required to go into quarantine for 14 days. Authorities said they will cover the cost of the tests in the first instance and are instructing airport operators to set up testing facilities. In the future, costs should be passed on to holidaymakers via ticket prices.

People entering Germany from risk countries by road, train and bus will be subject to random spot tests near the border. To gain a better idea of who is entering the country,Germany also plans to re-introduce disembarkation cards for all arrivals.

In the video below, is a discussion on Germany’s response to COVID-19:

Durban July organisers promise viewers a superb race
24 July 2020, 6:28 PM

It’s all systems go for the virtual Vodacom Durban July tomorrow when everyone will be watching the premier horse racing event from the comfort of their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Authority says the virtual event will help to save jobs in the industry. The body says before the pandemic, horse racing alone contributed about R3 billion to the country’s GDP and about R8 million in taxes annually.

Organisers of the Vodacom Durban July say they are expecting a decrease in their betting turnover this year, due to the pandemic. Each year the event attracts over 55 000 people to the Greyville racecourse. Last year’s on-course turnover was in the region of R40 million and the total turnover for the race day was around a whopping R150 million.

The fact that betting shops are this year restricted to a limited number of punters, has caused major setbacks. Gold Circle’s Steven Marshall says although the number of clients betting on-line has increased since the lockdown started, it is still not enough to meet the previous year’s turnover.

“We do expect the betting turnover to be down this year. Also, the fact that we won’t have the 55 000 people on course, so obviously the on-course turnover will be affected as well. We have been pushing online betting, through lockdown betting shops were closed but we were able to operate online. So we do have more clients operating online than previously. But now since betting shops are open there are still restrictions in place with regards to how many people can access betting. All of this will have an impact on the turnover that we do this year.”

According to reports from the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Authority, the industry contributed about R905 million during the 2019-2020 financial year. Spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Economic Development and Environmental Affairs – Ndabezinhle Sibiya – says this weekend’s virtual Durban July is critical to save jobs in the sector.

“Before lockdown KZN gaming and betting authority collected revenue of more than R724 million and created 11 000 jobs. MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has acknowledged this contribution but she is worried that due to the outbreak of COVID-19 many sectors of the economy have been affected, including the gaming and betting industry. She is consulting with these sectors to save jobs,” Sibiya says.

In the video below, Vodacom Durban July to go virtual:

But despite the hardships that come with the pandemic, trainers and jockeys are promising viewers a superb race. Trainer of double-defending champion – Do It Again – Justin Snaith, says despite the absence of the crowds, they are confident of a good run.

“We have no excuses going into this race, the horse is as good as I have had him. He’s back, he’s really doing well and if Rainbow Bridge again that bests him we have no excuses. We have Anthon Marcus on and I could be more confident of a good run. It will be a privilege to be part of this houses’ journey into this July.”

Warren Kennedy – who rides Rainbow Bridge – says he is hoping to end the season with a bang by claiming victory.

“I’m really happy with his prep like the gold challenge it was not the way to go the way he fell. I knew he was going to come back fresh and he can be an aggressive horse. I wasn’t going to fight with him but eventually he was outright. It’s system go, I’m hoping for a major run.”

Meanwhile, organisers say the fact that there will be no spectators at Greyville, makes it easier for them to ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are adhered to. They say essential workers will be the only people allowed at the racecourse.

Mlangeni Foundation distances itself from ‘ANC internal battles’
24 July 2020, 6:08 PM

The June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation has distanced itself from what it calls “internal battles” within the ANC. The remark follows an earlier announcement that former president Jacob Zuma will tonight address the first of a series of virtual memorial services for the late Andrew Mlangeni.

Mlangeni was critical of Zuma’s alleged involvement in corruption, which saw billions of rands in public funds looted in State Capture.

A trustee of the foundation, Malusi Kekana, says they won’t be drawn into the ANC’s internal affairs but will honour the legacy of Mlangeni in a way they see fit.

“What we would not like to do is to take this event of giving ntate Mlangeni an honourable funeral to mar it in controversy due to the current state of affairs. I think as Africans it is a duty for us not to make this funeral as a point of sowing divisions within the African National Congress.”

In the video below, ANC pays tribute to Ntate Andrew Mlangeni:

Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize from the Foundation says they will not tolerate any form of corruption in preparing for the funeral of Mlangeni.

“Our Foundation has a plea and it’s that powers that be ensure that the procurement processes around baba Mlangeni’s burial are handled in a transparent manner to portray the integrity and dignity that he stood for. It will be appreciated that we don’t hear of any irregularities post the funeral.”

Mlangeni died on Tuesday in hospital after being admitted for an abdominal complaint.

He was the last surviving Rivonia Trialist who spent 26 years on Robben Island.

He was 95. His funeral service will be held at the Soweto Campus of the University of Johannesburg.


Decision to close schools regrettable and unjustifiable: SAHRC
24 July 2020, 4:29 PM

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has dismissed government’s decision to keep schools closed for all grades, except Grades 7 and 12, until 24 August 2020 as regrettable and unjustifiable.

“The decision means that by 24 August 2020 over 10 million South African children, depending on the grade they are in, will have lost over 50% or 100 scheduled school days as a result of COVID-19 school closures,” says the Commission in a statement.

The Commission says its view on the opening of schools is guided by the evidence provided by a range of researchers that point to the devastating consequences of children not being at school.

These include increases in hunger and malnutrition; poor children are not being screened for diseases which kill thousands of South Africans annually and severely compromise many more, notably TB and HIV and increased risk of child abuse, mental health breakdowns with rising rates of depression and anxiety.

“Poorer children regress significantly in terms of reading and maths skills during extended absence from school,” says the Commission.

The SAHRC has, however, welcomed government’s decision to provide meals to all children who qualify for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which caters for at least nine million children.

 Equal Education’s view

 Equal Education (EE) says it cautiously supports the decision to temporarily close public schools, as the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the provincial education departments (PEDs) work to address legitimate and serious concerns raised by teachers and learners about some schools being unsafe and inadequately supported to reopen.

“We welcome the confirmation from President Cyril Ramaphosa that the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) will continue to provide food to learners while at home over the next four weeks, to lessen the detrimental impact of school closures on learners. The initial phasing back of only grades 7 and grade 12 learners will relieve some of the pressure on schools, that was brought about by the return of more grades earlier this month.”

Equal Education expands on its view:

The rights group, however, says it remains concerned about the impact of extended school closures on children. “We urge the education departments to respond with absolute urgency and to not squander this opportunity to put crucial safety measures and support structures in place at all schools.

“It is baffling that the DBE has failed to implement a risk-adjusted strategy that is responsive to conditions in schools and communities to help inform the reopening and closing of schools. Furthermore, the DBE’s Standard Operating Procedures have not provided sufficient guidance on the complexities of managing the COVID-19 pandemic in schools.”



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